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As Croghan and the communities in this extensive region continued to grow, the
need for a resident priest became necessary. Thus in 1854 Fr. Anthony
Heimo from Switzerland was appointed. He was followed in later years by:
Fr. Philip Nicholas
These priests served not only Catholics in Croghan, but also those in Belfort & New Bremen, and other hamlets in Lewis County.
On August 31, 1869 the St. Stephen's Church community was formally incorporated. In 1872 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg was officially established. Thus the fledging new diocese had to recruit and form its own clergy. Seven years after the formal incorporation of the parish and after a two year period of not having a resident pastor, a band of German Franciscan Friars, expelled from their own country because of the Prussian persecution, approached the diocese's first Bishop, Edgar P. Wadhams, requesting a pastoral appointment. Bishop Wadhams, according to the Franciscan Chronicles, said to Franciscan Father Ferdinand Muller and his group of five friars: "Here are altar breads and wine. Go to Croghan, say Mass, and serve there."
In February of 1876, the ministry of the Franciscan Friars from Fulda,
Germany began in the Catholic Communities of Croghan, Belfort, New Bremen and
other missions in Lewis County. These parochial centers of faith and
worship had their spiritual and sacramental needs provided for them under the
leadership of: Fr. Ferdinand Muller, the first Franciscan pastor,
In 1901 a new entity within the Franciscan Order was established which became
know as Holy Name Province. Thus, the Churches of St. Stephen's, St.
Vincent's, St. Peter's, St. Anthony's, and St. Ann's were entrusted to the care
of the Franciscan Priests of the Holy Name Province. From among the many
Franciscans assigned to the monastery at Croghan, the following served as pastor
of St. Stephen's and its mission churches: Fr. Leo Heinrichs
In 1990, a new era began in the pastoral leadership of the Church which gathers at St. Stephen's; the care of the Catholic Community in Croghan and surrounding area was turned over to the priests of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Fr. Leo Wiley became the first diocesan priest appointed pastor and served the community for 16 years. June 28, 2006 saw the arrival of Fr. Daniel L. Chapin as pastor.
Let us pray that the faith that took root here in the early 1800's will continue to grow and be challenged; and let us pray that we will always sow God's love joyfully, faithfully and with exuberant humility.
|The History of the St. Stephen's Parish Community|